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Divorce on Cruelty, Desertion and Non consummated Marriage

IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS          

DATED: 21/07/2005 

CORAM :THE HONBLE MRS. JUSTICE R. BANUMATHI        

C.R.P.(PD)NO. 857 of 2004  and C.M.P. No. 8162 of 2004

Umamaheswari                           .. Petitioner
-Vs-
K. Babu                                        .. Respondent
                Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of  India
against the  fair and decretal order dated 30.12.2003 made in I.A.No.  1368 of
2003 in H.M.O.P.No.540 of 2001 on the file of the Family Court, Coimbatore.

For Petitioner :  Mr.  J.  Ramakrishnan

For Respondent :  Ms.  P.T.  Asha
:ORDER 

                This Revision is preferred against the  order  of  the  Family
Court, Coimbatore made in I.A.    No.    1368 of 2003 in H.M.O.P.  No.  540 of
2001, dated 30.12.2003 allowing the application filed under Order VI Rule 1  7
of C.P.C.      permitting   the  Petitioner/Husband  to  amend  the  petition.
Respondent/Wife is the Revision Petitioner.

                2.   Marriage  between  the  Revision   Petitioner   and   the
Respondent was  solemnised  as per Hindu Rites and Customs on 30.11.1998.  The  
spouses were living in the house of the Respondent/Husband.  H.M.O.P.No.540 of
2001 has been filed for divorce.  Case of the Respondent/Husband is that while
the Revision Petitioner/ Wife was living with him, she  had  no  intention  to
consummate the  marriage.   She did not cooperate with the Respondent/ Husband 
in conjugal obligation during three months of  their  matrimonial  life.    In
February  1999,  the Revision Petitioner/ Wife was going along with her mother
for medical check up.  But the Revision Petitioner/ Wife and  her  mother  did
not tell  anything  about their conversation with the Doctor.  After finishing
medical check up, she was staying with the Respondent/ Husband  in  his  house
for two  days.   Thereafter, she left for her parents house without giving any
intimation to the Respondent/ Husband and then she did not return back to  the
matrimonial house.    She  had also taken away all her jewels, valuable sarees
and other valuable things.   For  about  two  and  half  years,  the  Revision
Petitioner/ Wife  has  not  resumed  her  family  life.   When the Respondent/
Husband had contacted to bring her back, he was insulted by her father on  may
occasion s.  In the petition, it is alleged that the Revision Petitioner/ Wife
is sterile and since she has left the matrimonial house for about two and half
years i.e.    from  February  1999, it amounts to desertion on the part of the
Revision Petitioner/ Wife.  On the ground of cruelty, sterility, desertion and
on non consummation  of  marriage,  the  Respondent/  Husband  has  filed  the
petition for  divorce  in H.M.O.P.No.540 of 2001.  The said petition was filed
under Section 13 (1)(i-a) of Hindu Marriage Act.

                3.  The  Revision  Petitioner/  Wife  has  filed  the  counter
statement  contending that she was happily living with the Respondent/ Husband
for about two years.   According  to  her,  she  is  the  @Kiw  bgz;@  of  the
Respondent/  Husband  and  the marriage was performed as per their wish and it
was an arranged marriage.  The Revision Petitioner/ wife could not procreate a
child; her mother insisted to take her  to  hospital.    But  the  Respondent/
Husband was  denying  permission  even  to  see  her parents.  The Respondent/
Husband had beaten the Revision Petitioner/ Wife and was treating her cruelly.
Despite the request from the parents of the Revision Petitioner/ Wife and  the
Village elders,  the Respondent/ Husband was not willing to take her back.  In
her counter statement, the Revision Petitioner had expressed  her  willingness
to live with her Husband.

                4.  The main petition was pending enquiry.  At that stage, the
Respondent/  Husband  has  filed  I.A.No.1368  of  2003  for  amendment of the
petition :-
        (i) To amend the petition by adding
        Section 13(1)(i-b)of Hindu Marriage Act 1955;
        (ii) To substitute the word impotency/Impotent
                instead of sterility/sterile.

In the supporting affidavit, the Respondent/Husband has alleged  that  due  to
omission, the relevant Section for Desertion was not included in the petition.
It  is  further alleged that the Revision Petitioner/ Wife was not showing any
interest in the famil y life.  After the medical check up,  she  has  abruptly
left the  matrimonial home without any cause thereby deserting him.  According
to the Respondent/ Husband Impotency  means  incapacity  to  consummate  the
marriage.   Under  the  said  circumstances, the Respondent/ Husband has filed
this application to amend the word sterility with the word  impotency  and
had also sought for amendment to include Section 13 (1)(i-b) of Hindu Marriage
Act.

See also  DV against ex-husband after a mutual consent divorce quashed

                5.   Resisting  the  application  for  amendment, the Revision
Petitioner/  Wife  has  filed  the  counter  statement  strictly  denying  her
impotency.   The application for amendment had been filed belatedly to fill up
the lacunae in the main petition.  It is alleged that the medical  certificate
filed  by the Wife would prove that she is fit for sexual intercourse and also
fit for matrimonial life.

                6.  Upon consideration of contentions  of  both  parties,  the
learned  Judge,  Family  Court has allowed the amendment application interalia
finding that omission to include Section 13 (1)(i-b) of the Hindu Marriage Act
is not a serious mistake but only an inadvertent mistake and that inclusion of
Section 13 (1)(i-b) would not change the nature of the petition.  The  learned
Judge  accepted  the  plea  for  amendment  to  substitute the word Impotent
instead of the word sterile .  In the view of  the  trial  Court,  the  word
sterile  has  been  mistakenly  used  and therefore by allowing the proposed
amendment, no prejudice would be caused to the Revision Petitioner/ Wife.

                7.   Aggrieved  over  the  order  of  allowing  the  amendment
application, the  Revision  Petitioner/  Wife  has  filed  this Revision.  The
learned counsel for the Revision  Petitioner/  Wife  has  submitted  that  the
proposed  amendment  has  been sought for nearly after two years when the case
has been posted for trial.    Drawing  the  attention  of  the  Court  to  the
averments in the petition, the learned counsel for the Revision Petitioner has
submitted  that  the Husband has only alleged suspicion regarding the Revision
Petitioners capability for sexual intercourse and matrimonial life  and  that
suspicion  may not be a ground for amendment of the main petition substituting
the word Impotent.  Submitting that the Revision Petitioner/ Wife is fit for
consummation, the learned counsel for the Revision  Petitioner  has  contended
that  even according to the Respondent/ Husband, the defect was only a curable
defect and that there is no reason for  alleging  impotency.    Assailing  the
impugned  order, the learned counsel for the Revision Petitioner has submitted
that the order of allowing the amendment  application  suffers  from  material
irregularity  since  the Court below had not properly appreciated the proposed
amendment which seeks to introduce a new case. 
                8.  Drawing the attention of the Court to the averments in the
petition, the learned counsel for the Respondent/ Husband has  submitted  that
sufficient  averments have been made to substantiate the plea of desertion and
that the inclusion of the Section for desertion is only  formal  and  that  no
valid objection  could  be raised.  Submitting that the expression Sterility
could be substituted as Impotency.  The learned counsel for the  Respondent/
Husband ha s submitted that in consideration of the averments in the petition,
the  trial  Court  has  rightly  ordered  the  amendment petition and that the
impugned order does not suffer from any infirmity warranting interference.

                9.  Whether the  order  of  allowing  the  proposed  amendment
amending the  main petition in HMOP No.  540 of 2001 permitting the Husband to
include Section 13 (1)(i-b) of the Hindu Marriage Act and  permitting  him  to
substitute  the  word Impotency instead of Sterility suffers from material
irregularity is the main point that arises for consideration in this Revision.

                10.  The main petition in HMOP No.  540 of 2001 was  filed  on
1.10.200 1.    The  amendment  application in I.A.No.1368 of 2003 was filed on
23.9.2003.  The amendment application is said to have been filed when the main
case was posted for trial.  The proposed amendment is assailed on  the  ground
that it  has  been  filed belatedly.  Mere delay in making the application for
amendment is not a ground for refusal of the amendment.  Allowing amendment is
discretionary; amendment application if filed at a late stage,  it  cannot  be
granted as a matter of course.  But to do full and complete justice, the Court
exercising its  discretion  may allow the amendment.  Mere delay in filing the
amendment petition by itself is no  ground  for  dismissal  of  the  amendment
petition.

See also  Benefit of Doubt, Acquitted in Sections 498A/Section 302 IPC

                11.   The  amendment  could  be  disallowed if it introduces a
totally different, new and inconsistent case or its effect is  to  change  the
character of  the  petition/suit.    It  is  to  be  seen whether the proposed
amendment introduces a new plea in contradiction to the original pleading  and
whether it  introduces  a  new  case.  The petition for divorce has been filed
under Section 13 (1)(i-a)  on the ground of cruelty.   Now  by  the  proposed
amendment,  the Respondent/ Husband seeks to introduce the ground of desertion 
by including the Section 13(1)(i-b)of the Hindu Marriage Act.           12.
The main point for consideration  is  whether  the  inclusion  of  Section  13
(1)(i-b)  introduces  a  new  case  or  whether  it reflects only the original
pleading.

                13.  Drawing the attention of the Court to  the  averments  in
the  petition,  the  learned counsel for the Respondent/ Husband has contended
that there are sufficient averments in the main petition  alleging  desertion.
Referring  to the desertion in para-4 of the petition it is stated that  when
the Respondent left her parent,  she  took  away  her  jewels,  some  valuable
sarees,  other  valuable  things  and  marriage  video,  cassette, photos, the
incident has happened during February 1999 and even after two and  half  years
the Respondent has not resumed her family life.

                14.  According to the Respondent/ Husband, he has made attempt
to take  her  back  but she has not turned back.  Allegations are made to that
effect in para-5 as The petitioner made  innumerable  attempts  to  take  the
Respondent  for  the past 2 = years to his matrimonial home for the purpose of
cure the defects but, everything went in vain.
                15.  Similarly in  para-11,  which  refers  to  the  cause  of
action,  it  is  alleged that  after two days, the Respondent returned to her
parents house  and  never  returned  till  date  and  where  the  Petitioners
residence at  Coimbatore.    Thus sufficient averments are made regarding the
desertion.  The merits of those averments relating to desertion is to be  seen
only at the time of trial.

                16.   The  inclusion of Section 13 (1)(i-b) of the Act amounts
to amendment on the same set of averments.  The first Para  of  the  amendment
viz.,  to include Section 13(1)(i-b) does not introduce a new set of facts nor
does it introduce a new plea.  In that view of the matter, the  order  of  the
Family Court permitting amendment to include Section 13 (1)(i-b)- desertion as
a ground of divorce is to be confirmed.

                17.   The  next  limb of amendment sought for is to substitute
the word Impotent instead of the  words  sterility/sterile  wherever  it  is
found in  the  main  petition.  According to the Respondent/ Husband, the Wife
was not fit for matrimonial life/ sexual intercourse and that the marriage was
not consummated.  According  to  him,  the  word  sterility/sterile  has  been
mistakenly   stated   and   that   the   same   is   to  be  substituted  with
Impotent/Impotency.

                18.  To  appreciate  the  merits  of  the  contention,  it  is
necessary to  refer  to  the  averments  in  the  petition.   In para-2 of the
Petition it is alleged that the Wife did not co-operate with the Petitioner  /
Husband in conjugal  obligations.    …..  Petitioner also did not compel the
Respondent/ Wife for sexual intercourse during  three  months  of  matrimonial
life.   In  para-3  of  the  petition, it is further alleged that the Revision
Petitioner/ Wife was taken for medical check up and after  medical  check  up,
the  Revision  Petitioner/ Wife  her mother did not disclose the conversation
between them with the daughter.  In the cause of action  paragraph  –  para-11
also,  it  is  alleged that the Respondent lived together without consummating
the marriage and later on when  the  Petitioner/Husband  suspected  sterility.
Thus, definite allegations are levelled that the marriage was not consummated.
No  allegations have been made that the Revision Petitioner/ Wife is unfit for
sexual intercourse.  Impotency  means  physical/  practical  impossibility  to
perform sexual  act in a complete and perfect manner.  Making allegations that
a person is impotent is something serious having serious implications.  In the
absence of definite averments regarding impotency,  the  amendment  cannot  be
allowed in a casual manner.

See also  Improved allegations, Sections 498A and 304-B, IPC. set aside

                19.  In  P.   Ramanatha Aiyers The Law Lexicon Second Edition
1997, the meaning of Sterility is given as :

        Sterility.  Barrenness; incapacity to produce a child.  It is curable
and incurable.  When of the later kind at the time of  marriage,  and  arising
from impotency,  it  is  a good cause for dissolving a marriage.  (1, tomlins
Med.  Leg.  254).

        In the Concise Oxford Dictionary    Tenth  Edition,  the  meaning  of
Sterile has been given as:-

        Sterile.  Not able to produce children or young (of a plant) not able
to produce fruit or seeds.  ( of land or soil) ……
        In  the  Law  Lexicon Second Edition 1997, the meaning of impotency is
stated as :-

        Impotency.  Incapacity for sexual intercourse.
IMPOTENCY       .   Impotency, as a cause for divorce,  means  an  incurable
defect,  and  not  every temporary or occasional incapacity, but permanent and
lasting inability for copulation and procreation.
The word  barrenness is in no sense the synonym of impotency.
Incapacity for sexual intercourse is an  essential  ingredient  of  impotency.
Such  an inability may arise from a variety of causes including the mental and
moral disability.  (Jagdish Kumar V.  Sita Devi,  AIR  1  963  Pun  114,  115.
(Hindu Marriage Act (1955) S.12(1)(a).
                In the Oxford Dictionary, the meaning of Impotency is stated
as :-
        Impotent.   (of  a  man)  abnormally unable to achieve an erection or
orgasm.

Impotency is  the  lack  of  ability  to  perform  full  and  complete  sexual
intercourse.   On  the  other  hand,  sterility is the incapacity to produce a
child.  The word Sterility cannot be equated with  the  word    Impotency.
Both the expressions are not interchangeable.  Impotency is the incapacity for
sexual intercourse  which has got serious implications.  Substituting the word
Impotency for Sterility would cause  serious  prejudice  to  the  Revision
Petitioner/ Wife.    In  the  absence  of  definite pleading that the Revision
Petitioner/ Wife was sexually impotent or that she was  incapable  for  sexual
intercourse,  the word Impotent/Impotency cannot be substituted for the word
Sterile/ Sterility.  Substitution of the word  Impotency  for  Sterility
completely changes the original plea.  It would alter the nature and character
of the  petition.    Considering  the  meaning  of both the expression and the
implications on the contention of both  parties,  the  learned  Judge,  Family
Court  ought  not to have allowed the second limb of the amendment sought for.
The  impugned   order   allowing   the   amendment   substituting   the   word
Impotent/Impotency  instead  of  the  word  Sterile/  Sterility  cannot be
sustained and has to be set aside.

                20.  For the forgoing reasons, the order of the Family  Court,
Coimbatore made in I.A.   No.    1368  of  2003 in H.M.O.P.  No.  540 of 2001,
30.12.2003 is confirmed only regarding the first limb of the amendment   i.e.
Regarding the amendment for inclusion of Section 13 (1)(i-b) of Hindu Marriage
Act.  The order of allowing the second limb of amendment substituting the word
Impotency/Impotent instead  of  Sterility/Sterile  is  set  aside.    This
Revision Petition is partly allowed.  In the circumstances of the case,  there
is no order as to costs.  Consequently, C.M.P.  No.  8162 of 2004 is closed.

        The  Petitioner/  Husband  is  to  be  directed  to  file  the amended
petition.  On filing such amended petition  learned  Judge  of  Family  Court,
Coimbatore  is  directed  to  afford sufficient opportunity to the Respondent/
Wife to file additional counter, if any.
To:The Judge, Family Court,Coimbatore.

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See also  DV against ex-husband after a mutual consent divorce quashed
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